I'm noticing a very disturbing trend in this game, recently. I'll be trying to run 5 man instances, and will be looking for a tank. I do /who Shattrath, and after searching through a number of the other cities, find that by far the largest concentration of different people (and Warriors in particular) are in that city.
I go down the list, messaging them and asking them if they are willing to come. Usually it's the Steamvault, but sometimes it's the Shattered Halls as well. To a man, the answer is no thanks. From my time on the forums, I've begun to realise that nearly every one of those 70s I see in Shattrath will be in queue for the Arena.
I've been looking at the Arena gear recently, as well. From what I've been able to figure out, it's better than just about everything else in the game, other than maybe Black Temple stuff. Hence, people have very little real incentive to do group PvE any more.
The forums have become even more toxic than usual recently, as well. There has been an unbelievable storm of crying and screaming among Hunters in particular, but other classes as well, for class changes. Every change however that is asked for is purely in relation to the Arena, and anyone who dares voice concern about the effect that this might have on PvE balance is immediately and ruthlessly shouted down.
Another negative change on the forum has been the use of someone's Arena rating as a measure of the worth of their opinion. It is now standard practice on the forum, that if you don't agree with what someone has written, to simply use their arena rating (or lack of, according to your own standards) to entirely discredit said person's opinion, rather than attempting to mount a counter-argument based on the actual topic at hand.
I believe that all of these elements, both within the game and outside it, (in terms of the forum) are contributing to the continual decline of player population within the game. Some of you may not have heard of a man called Tom Chilton, or Kalgan, who is apparently the lead designer of the pvp elements of the game, among other things. This man, it turns out, was also the lead designer of the Ultima Online expansion, Age of Shadows, which is generally blamed for the downfall of that game.
Age of Shadows introduced a particular dungeon, Dungeon Doom, which was very different in design to the earlier dungeons of the game. Dungeon Doom ended up becoming the sole focus of nearly everyone who played the game; you didn't log into UO to do anything other than farm Dungeon Doom, in the end.
Dungeon Doom also led to UO becoming much more explicitly item-based than it had been previously, but you didn't get the items from there in order to use them anywhere else, because there was nothing else in the game that was more difficult than Dungeon Doom. People got the items from Dungeon Doom solely for the purpose of being able to claim that they were inherently superior to others who didn't have said items.
Hence, what had once been a varied and worthwhile game degenerated into nothing other than an e-peen contest. Not long before I finally left the game for good, I actually saw one particular character outside the Britain Bank with nearly all of the rare drops from Dungeon Doom equipped.
The character's name? Peter North.